All jokes aside, this is my last blog post for this trip, but I must say that I have enjoyed it and want to do more blogging in the future. We'll see if I have time for anything this year, but certainly in the future.
Rio de Janeiro has been the location of amazing adventures, relaxing hangouts, and the beginning of so many friendships. All of the people I have met through the program (students and staff, alike) have been fantastic friends, fun companions for daring to extend outside my comfort zone, and they have all bettered my worldview and life for the diverse experiences and backgrounds they brought to this trip. I only hope that we all remain in contact.
Top 5 things I will miss about Rio/Brazil:
1. Fruits/juices -- yes, they exist in the U.S. too, but the pureness of the fruit here is incomparable (you actually have to add sugar rather than being bombarded with sweetness) and the accessibility (nearly every corner of every street) is unparalleled.
2. My host mom, Nilda -- living where I did was a wonderful experience. Nilda was always nice, patient, and caring, not to mention a stellar cook.
3. Pipoca, churros, and other delectable/cheap treats available across the beachside walk -- or less than a dollar, you can have the best churro ever made, complete with caramel or chocolate.
4. Maracujá caipirinhas -- while these are easy enough to make in their original lime flavor, it will be hard to duplicate the passion fruit ones.
5. All of the natural beauty, to which I am now practically desensitized -- seeing the most beautiful beaches surrounded by majestic mountains every day has made them seem almost commonplace. Though Madison is lovely, it will be an adjustment when I get back to the more gentle geography this week.
Top 5 things I'm fine to be leaving in Brazil:
1. The traffic of Rio -- It will be nice returning to a place where traffic signals are actually obeyed, cars drive in lanes, and motorcyclists don't weave their way through cars. Every time I see that, I fear that one opened car door will extinguish a life swiftly.
2. Those random street corners that just smell like poop -- no further description needed. Gross!
3. The vast majority of everything being overpriced -- and if it's not overpriced, it is probably fake or artificial.
4. No public bathrooms or drinking fountains -- I've only found one public water fountain, and it was in the naval museum, somewhat appropriately.
5. Ham for breakfast, every breakfast -- I'm so ready for my all-American breakfast of dry cereal and calcium-infused OJ.
I finally was able to play with a bateria this week. My friend Daniel and I went to the Fundição Progresso in Lapa to take a free class with Bangala Fumenga and we loved it. Daniel had not played percussion formally, but still enjoyed working out the caixa (snare drum) rhythms with me and some other sambistas. My only regret about the experience was that we hadn't gone there sooner.
Today, my last full day in Brazil, I walked about a mile to the Lagoa, which is Rio's main lake. Upon seeing the lake, I was struck with an intense feeling of what Brazilians call saudade. There is no direct translation for this word, but it essentially means an intense longing in which the person is both happy to have the memories and missing whatever is the subject of those memories. For me, my saudades had a double subject. I was already missing Brazil, even though I hadn't left it yet, and remembering all the good times I've had here. At the same time, looking at this beautiful (but somewhat understated, for the other natural beauty in this area) lake made me think about the city to which I am returning. Having been away for six weeks, I know I will have to adjust to a few things when I come back, but I'm ready to face the many challenges this year will bring, and have fun in doing so.
Before I put an end to this Brazil blog business, I want to review my initial three goals.
1. Stop obsessing over how much sleep I get. -- Well, I haven't been nearly as worried about it, but at the same time, I have still been getting around 8 hours of sleep on weeknights. However, I have been averaging 4 on weekends, with a substantial helping of naps sprinkled in there. I am happy to say that I haven't been worrying about sleep amounts at all. Therefore, my nights out have been more fun as a whole.
2. Learn how to dance (or at least begin this arduous task). -- Ok, to be fair, I started pretty low on the talent chart, but I do definitely feel that I've improved and gained confidence, especially with Brazilian samba/forró dancing as well as salsa. With hip-hop and American music, it can still be hard to maintain that dancing intensity, but I'm ready to continue this long-term project back in the states.
3. Explore. -- I probably could have done a bit more of exploring on my own, but I am very proud of how much I branched out with my friends. Whether on the beach, with the nightlife, or in the city centers and neighborhoods, we intrepidly set out to discover special places and natural wonders, uncertain of exactly how to get there, and sometimes we would be unable to find them. But even on those occasions, we broke out of our comfort zones and strengthened our friendships.
Well, this blog seems somewhat incomplete, in that I never filled you in on the other things I did the last week of my trip, but I'd be happy to tell you in person. Am I lazy? Maybe. Do I feel that I'm saying in this blog post what's important about this last week/my trip as a whole? Definitely.
|Me enjoying the Jardín Botánico in Botafogo last week. Beautiful gardens!|